A good thriller should always have you on the edge of your seat, or at least envelop you with an uneasy feeling, permeating your thoughts as you watch on in delighted horror. Lodger #1 by David and Maria Lapham does a damn good job of replicating this feeling of uneasiness as you read through the first issue and witness a small town that wakes up to a double murder.
While we are witness to one such murder (crime of passion?) the story unfolding is predominately played out in front of our protagonist, Ricky, an 18 year old woman looking for revenge on the serial killer responsible for her parents’ death. She’s washed up to a small town famous for it’s night-time views of the Northern Lights, but as with so many horror films of the past, small town America has always been a fervent bed of diabolical doings and dangers. Maybe she’ll find more than she bargained for?
The decision to illustrate the whole thing in black and white only adds to this sense of unease. It adds a sheen of the noir to what would otherwise be a rather picturesque town, and with the colour drained from this world all we are left with is the stark bleakness of a community dealing with events very much out of the ordinary.
Ricky may know why she’s here, but for the rest of us, it remains unclear. The narration to the whole book, for example, is another great tool that will have you believing one thing, when the truth is unclear. The whole book works really well at keeping the reader on their toes and wondering where will the story go next. Ricky, our travelling companion, is no wallflower herself, and gets into the odd scrape or two while looking for the mysterious, nameless Lodger, an online travel blogger who can use this anonymity to get around and do his thing.
It’s a complicated book, that’s for sure, with plenty going on even before Ricky comes to town, and plenty more to look forward too as more and more small opaque details come into view by the end of this debut issue. Like a modern day Heart of Darkness, it would seem the highways of America can only bring you deeper and deeper into unknown territory, territory that is filled with danger and death ’round every corner. A crime-noir revenge-fuelled road trip with a protagonist already out of her depth regardless of the amount of grit and gumption she possesses.
Things can only get worse for Ricky, and I’ll be there to see where she goes next and what dangers she’ll face. After all, what more would you expect from someone seeking a serial killer all on her lonesome in middle America? What’s not to worry about, right?
Lodger #1 is available now from Black Crown by David and Maria Lapham.